Writing Your Best Scenes on a Deadline

Many new writers long to have deadlines. And yes, if you are writing on contract rather than on spec, you might feel more secure. But deadlines impose a new set of challenges.

Writing Tip for Today: Hurray! You have a writing deadline to meet. Oh no! You have a writing deadline to meet. What do pros recommend?

  • Keep a Schedule. If you approach the deadline as you would final exams, you know things will be easier if you study or write in increments instead of “cramming” at the last minute. But we’re writers, not robots. Life gets in the way, computers crash (nice computer!) and all sorts of procrastinators arise. Figure out your usual writing pace and then spread out the work as evenly as you can. If you write two scenes per day, 1500 words or two chapters a week, your deadline might feel more doable.
  • Stay Fit and Hydrated. If you find yourself in a marathon deadline race, take time out to nourish your body and your brain. Eat high protein snacks, drink plenty of water (Diet Dr. Pepper has water in it, right?) and get up and walk around. One writer Mindy Starns Clark, has a keyboard connected to her treadmill and she types and jogs. Me, I can’t walk and chew gum, but you might be able to get a little exercise as you inch toward that deadline.
  • Delegate! If none of the above happens for you and you’re staring down a tight deadline, learn to delegate. Get a family member to cook, clean or run errands. Buy a ball cap with “I’m on Deadline” embroidered on it and write til your fingers are raw. When you finally hit “send,” you’ll be glad to know the world hasn’t stopped while you slaved. But you may wish to wear sunglasses your first time out of the writing cave.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

4 comments on “Writing Your Best Scenes on a Deadline

  1. Yes, writing on deadline is good. Exercise while writing is good. Now to find a way to combine the two. 🙂 Would love to try the treadmill option one of these days – maybe after we reclaim our spare room! In the meantime, and for those who do not have a treadmill, this winter whenever I got cold or tired of sitting still, I did steps on a stepping stool – at least one “flight” of stairs per break (15 steps for each lead leg)

  2. Wow, Linda, you forgot the big ones. Like “close your @#$%^& facebook page (where your post came up for me) and get back to your manuscript where you know you should be anyway.”

    Anyhow, that’s what usually sinks me. And I’m signing off to get to work. 🙂


  3. Hmm, LeeAnn. I guess I assumed if you have a deadline then you know this already. But come to think of it–why am I on my blog when I should be writing? Well said! ~Linda

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